Morpeth flood victim fears repeat as a result of plans for hundreds of new homes

A flood victim in Morpeth who was out of his home for six months fears a repeat as developer is given permission to build 255 homes

Morpeth resident Paul Christensen
Morpeth resident Paul Christensen

A flood victim who was out of his home for six months has voiced fears that he will suffer again after hundreds of new homes were allowed nearby.

Paul Christensen, a university professor, was out of his Morpeth home for Christmas in 2012 after a nearby burn flooded properties.

A developer has now been given planning permission to build 255 homes in the area, on the back of approval of another 250 in the vicinity and of a major road scheme.

A mixture of surface water and treated sewage from the schemes will be discharged into the burn, causing Prof Christensen to fear he and his neighbours will be flooded again.

The 54-year-old, who works in Newcastle University’s school of chemical engineering and advanced materials, lives at Copper Chare, close to the Cotting Burn, which he says poses a flood risk to many homes - “many of which belong to vulnerable people.”

The burn has flooded properties in Morpeth three times since September 2008, with Prof Christensen’s home threatened in the first on the sixth of that month.

It flooded on September 25 2012, leaving he and wife Henriette and younger daughter Lyria, 15, in rented accommodation for six months, including the Christmas.

Prof Christensen says neighbours in Butchers Lonnen have been flooded three times.

Now, Northumberland County Council has given planning permission to Persimmon for 255 homes behind the town’s Fairmoor petrol station, with proposals for the surface water to be discharged into the burn.

The developer also proposes to create a temporary sewage treatment works with treated sewage to also be discharged into the burn, measures approved by the Environment Agency, until such time as Northumbrian Water has upgraded the sewer system in Morpeth.

Prof Christensen believes the surface water and treated sewage can only increase the risk of flooding for he and his neighbours.

He has also claimed that risk will increase once another 250 homes at the Northgate hospital site are built, with Taylor Wimpey recently given approval there, and when the new Morpeth Northern bypass is constructed, with surface water from both set to be discharged into the burn.

Prof Christensen said: “When the burn is in spate during a major occurrence it can take no more water; this is the reason it bursts its banks and causes floods.

“If the developments go ahead, additional fluids will be arriving in the upper reaches of the burn.

“I am in absolutely no doubt that my home and those of my neighbours around the Cotting Burn will be flooded again.”

The council and environment agency have insisted they are satisfied with Persimmon’s plans to deal with both surface water and sewage.

An agency spokesman said: “The Environment Agency did not object to outline planning permission being granted as we were happy with the principles of the surface water and foul drainage strategy that were put forward.

“In terms of surface water management, we gave careful consideration to the proposals given the significant investment that’s being undertaken for flood risk management in Morpeth.

“The proposed drainage strategy seeks to limit the surface water discharge into Cotting Burn, and the proposed strategy will actually improve the existing surface water drainage situation at this location.

“One of the conditions we imposed was that a detailed surface water drainage scheme will be submitted with the application for full planning permission.”

A council spokesperson added: “Issues concerning flood risk and drainage were considered at length during the planning application process and found to be satisfactory in the context of an outline planning application.

“This included consultation with the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water and the council’s sustainable urban drainage officer.

“The detailed drainage scheme for the development will be assessed at the reserved matters stage and will involve further consultation with the statutory bodies.”

Persimmon failed to provide a comment.


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